How You Can Plant the Seeds of the Next Notre Dame Cathedral

By Jason Jones & John Zmirak Published on April 17, 2019

Few of us were thinking clearly on Monday. Christians and lovers of beauty suffered pole-axed astonishment at the burning of Notre Dame. It’s too early to know if it will be rebuilt correctly. (That is, exactly as it was before the fire.) Or if the multiculturalists dominating France and Europe pervert the building into some “multi-use, multi-faith” structure that mocks the reason for Notre Dame’s founding: as a witness to the Incarnation of Jesus, through His mother. It’s too soon to know if arson was involved. Paris authorities claimed in less than 24 hours to have ruled that out. How convenient, given the political explosiveness of any other conclusion. As FaithWire reported of France:

In the month of February alone, some 10 incidents of vandalism and desecration of Catholic churches were reported across the European country. According to Anglican Mainstream, on average, two French churches are desecrated every single day.

We don’t know if the near-destruction of France’s most iconic historic building — which survived the Revolution and two world wars — will spark a renewal of patriotism, faith, or love for tradition. We certainly hope for all three. France won’t last much longer, politically or demographically, without them.

The Spirit of the Future Is … the Past

We face so many known unknowns. But here’s one thing we do know. The spirit that built Notre Dame, in an age when Vikings still raided France’s borders, and Saracens threatened its coasts, is the spirit of the future. If we are to have one. It’s the faith that life has meaning, because Someone meant us to live, and died to redeem us. And the hope that plants an olive tree which our sons and grandsons can harvest. And the love that drives us to want and welcome children, whatever the cost, as new souls whom God has seen fit to entrust to our protection.

No great art has ever emerged from genuine despair. There are no cathedrals of cynicism which anyone would visit. The “interesting,” minor works that emerge from anguish, dread, and angry rebellion? They rarely age well. Is there anything more dreary to read today than Voltaire’s sophomoric “Candide”?

No great art has ever emerged from genuine despair. There are no cathedrals of cynicism which anyone would visit. The “interesting,” minor works that emerge from anguish, dread, and angry rebellion? They rarely age well. Is there anything more dreary to read today than Voltaire’s sophomoric Candide? Are there any buildings more soul-sucking than the Brutalist monoliths that fashionable collectivists imposed on us in the 70s? Does anyone go to the concert hall to hear modern composers dismantle the tonal system?

Great works need greatness of soul, or magnanimity. Souls need bodies. That means we must welcome life, with all its messiness and suffering, its confusions and failures. As Huxley foresaw, in a Brave New World where mere pleasure and comfort were the highest goals, there would be no need or hope of art. Nor love, nor memory. Just a dull, sub-erotic numbness which we designate as “pleasure,” between the test-tube and the tomb.

There Are No Hedonist Masterpieces

Artists are only human. Sometimes they’re prodigious sinners. Often they point to darkness and strife from which we’d rather avert our eyes. But every one of the great makers was united in this: he rejected shallow hedonism as a philosophy of life.

One way we can respond to the very great evil of Notre Dame’s near destruction is to fertilize the soil from which such artworks grow. We must prayerfully, faithfully nurture a genuine Culture of Life. As Jason wrote the day after the fire:

Yesterday, I watched in horror as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was suddenly engulfed in flames.

This beautiful landmark, which has been standing for half of Christendom, appeared to be lost forever. However, miraculously, it is still standing today.

When my friend, actor Eduardo Verastegui, was on a tour of Notre Dame in 2009 he learned that the Christians who built the cathedral envisioned a work of art that would last until the Lord returns.

As we reflected on the story, we were inspired to create a work of art that would be a landmark sharing the dignity of the child in the womb until our Lord returned. “Crescendo,” the short film we produced was inspired by Notre Dame.

Like the witness Notre Dame bears to God’s longing to repair His relationship with the human family, I believe the Lord is calling each of us to do a beautiful work that will last for generations to come. That vision begins by cherishing the weak, protecting the vulnerable, and doing everything we can to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for us and our posterity.

“Crescendo” is reaching countless people worldwide with the message of life. You can watch “Crescendo” here:



Say Yes to Life, and to Beauty

Crescendo did more than inspire people with the tale of a famous crisis pregnancy. It raised more than $6 million for crisis pregnancy centers. Those little, humble facilities are more like Notre Dame in their way than many more lavish buildings. They help women say yes to God, say yes to life, as the Virgin Mary once did, in equally troubling circumstances.

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By all means, pray and donate to help rebuild Notre Dame. But your work in defense of life lays the foundations for the Notre Dames of the future, for the symphonies, poems, novels, songs, and paintings that only arise from a culture unafraid of life, and steeled for suffering — preferably by faith in a Lord Who suffered with us and for us.

The Next Great Christian Monument

One last note of hope we can offer. The spirit that built Notre Dame still burns today. Eduardo Verastegui is one of its torch-bearers. As Fox News reports:

The world’s biggest statue of Jesus is coming to one of the most dangerous parts of Mexico.

Eduardo Verastegui, a prominent Mexican Catholic actor and pro-life advocate, plans to build the statue called “Christ of Peace” at a towering 252 feet, nearly twice the size of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer, which stands at 125 feet in Brazil. The current record holder is Christ the King statue in Poland, which is 172 feet high.

Promoters say it will show “a message of faith, love, hope, and peace” to Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas, a state that borders Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border. The state has recently been rocked by violent confrontations between security forces and drug dealers, but Verastegui said the purpose of the project is to leave a legacy of peace in the region.

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